blackmail press 18
Miriam Barr
New Zealand


And there… …there
…right …
  . there
I nearly had it,
held it,
let it loose,
in that moment blind
in raging elements

when youlifted your head
and roared,
threw hands to the stars
and the ever infinity
and allowed yourself
the free-flow exhalation
to fill it,to feel it,
     ((((((to give it sound)))))).

And there…
      . just there,
I nearly had it,
watching you
have it
and give it up
to the wild,

And I frantically grabbing
at bits of myself,
at planes of objects or subjects or shades
too afraid
to move that air up from stale lungs
past grip and reachof muscle
and sinewand synapse
and give it wings.

The Thing Is There Are No Absolute Beginnings Or Endings, Time Blurs Into Time and There Is No Way To Tell What’ll Start Or End Next So We Might As Well Give Up On This Whole Predictive Buzz And Just Get On With Living.

In the beginning
I didn’t notice
it was the beginning at all.

But somewhere along the line
I found myself fearing the end,
fearing any end,
fearing the end of something
I didn’t even know
I had started
till I got to the middle somewhere,

or quarter way through,
the thing is I really can’t
place myself,
having no recollection 
of beginning
and no conception
of where the end might

But somewhere along the way,
----------somewhere --------along------- it,
I found myself drawing lines in the sky,
imaginary horizons
to measure size and distance by

and now at this point,
whichever point     !     that may be,
I see the lines
aren’t really there after all,

and I s t r e t c h  o u t in distances

>I cannot name and can’t recall.< 

Lemon Verbena

"Lemon verbena … is a …  perennial shrub….  It prefers full sun, a lot of water, and a light loam soil, and is sensitive to cold." (Wikipedia 04/07)

When i was very small
my mother
smelled of lemon verbena
~ just in  t r a c e s ~

it lingered
on her long fingers,
in her hum, her eyes
in her teeth when she smiled,
in me
~ just traces ~
l e m o n  v e r b e n a.

i remember it.

My mother reads
that skin rashes
are attracted by
feelings of unworthiness.

It rings a bell.

My mother says her mother felt that way too.
I mmmhmmm in agreement down the phone.
Her mother gave it to my mother.
My mother gave it to me.

We hold this between us
like a stone.
A moment glides around it
like water, like eels, like Taniwha.

There is no blame.

It takes time, she says.

I can hear something in her voice
not regret exactly,
but something like it,
there is acceptance
that a mistakeis a mistake.

My mother has made it,
My mother is there.
~ lemon verbena ~

My grandmother takes me to lunch.
What's wrong with your skin?
She quizzes, squinched eye love,
pursed lip.

My grandmother is not.

My grandmother
gave it to my mother
… this feeling.
My mother
gave it to me
… this rash.

But we all have
that faint trace
lemon verbena.

A Flat Scene In Suburbia


a steep set of concrete stairs,
retro glassed in porch,
one over-flowing ashtray,
two dog bowls -
bits floating on surface of stagnant water,
a line of cacti,
terracotta pots.


a blue two-seater,
a Yucca in a pot,
three peroxide girls
pondering what they’ve got,
bottle of middle-range chardonnay,
one wilting maidenhair fern,
a monstrous, orange
hand-me-down sofa
barely hanging together.
On it, a good Kiwi bloke,
stubbies and a beer,
one big screened TV

and everyone’s happy.

- Miriam Barr